Feds want recordings of New Jersey bridge scandal testimony

AP News
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Posted: Jan 08, 2015 5:44 PM

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A joint legislative committee investigating traffic lane closures at one of the world's busiest bridges has been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors again — this time for video and audio recordings of testimony from a former top Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official.

The federal subpoena, issued by U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman and obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday, requests all video and audio recordings of testimony by Bill Baroni before the state Assembly's transportation committee in November 2013. It also asks for records the select committee has obtained.

Baroni, a former deputy executive director of the Port Authority, was appointed by Republican Gov. Chris Christie and has been a key figure in the George Washington Bridge scandal, which has hung over Christie as he considers a run for president in 2016. The Port Authority operates area bridges, tunnels and transit hubs and owns the World Trade Center site.

The committee had been subpoenaed previously, including last April. But this is the first time Fishman's office has asked for such specific records, committee co-chair and Democratic state Sen. Loretta Weinberg said.

She said the committee intended to comply with the general request but didn't have any audio or video recordings of Baroni's testimony because it was delivered in front of the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee before the joint committee was formed.

Baroni testified at the Nov. 25 hearing that the lane closures were part of a traffic study intended to test the value of dedicated access lanes from Fort Lee to the bridge, which connects to New York City. But documents made public a year ago suggest the lane closures were politically motivated and were intended to punish Fort Lee's Democratic mayor for failing to endorse Christie's re-election bid.

A transcript of Baroni's remarks is available on the state legislature's website.

Christie has said he knew nothing about the bridge disruptions before they happened, and no evidence has emerged suggesting he had anything to do with them.

Baroni and his attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday. Spokesmen for the U.S. attorney's office and for Christie declined to comment.

The new activity from Fishman's office suggests the investigation is continuing. But Weinberg cautioned against drawing conclusions, suggesting the request could point to a new areas of inquiry, the office crossing its Ts and dotting its Is as it finishes its work or something else.

"I have never second-guessed the U.S. attorney's office," Weinberg said. "We'll all find out when he does whatever he's going to do."